by: Sumanth Maddirala ‘18
It’s been five months since our Head of School, J. Samuel (Sam) Houser, officially took office. It seems like it was just yesterday that Sam first arrived on campus. This just goes to show how quickly time flies when school is going well!
It’s hard to ask more of Sam in terms of leadership for our community. He’s warm hearted, compassionate, highly dedicated, and most importantly a good friend to us all!
Sam has been eager to hear feedback from students and faculty members. In order to accomplish this, he plans to meet with each and every faculty and staff member and is offering drop-in hours for students so that he can address their concerns.
Sam has heard a lot from students and faculty about what we can do to improve as a community. Curious George visited with Sam recently and spoke with him about what he thinks we can do to improve.
Sam has had a very nice first term at George School. “I feel very much supported by the faculty and students,” he stated. “I feel very welcomed.” Sam also says that he has learned a lot from his five months here, and still has much more to learn. To summarize his experience: the vast knowledge Sam has gained in such a short time, according to Sam, is like the amount of water one would “drink out of a firehose.”
Sam finds our community diverse and cooperative, saying, “I appreciate the commitment people have to one another. I’ve been impressed about how tight-knit the community is. I noticed a camaraderie about students for one another.”
However, Sam has a suggestion for the student body. He has noticed that we have a highly diverse community, in terms of ideology, race, religion, and nationality, but he also believes that we don’t necessarily make the most of it. According to Sam, “People who come from similar backgrounds or speak similar languages are going to naturally find one another. However, if we could break this habit just a little bit, I’m sure our community will become stronger.”
To characterize Sam’s statement: in essence, what we have is a tasty bowl of soup, with all the meat, beans, and veggies we need. However, if we were to mix it up so that meat, veggies, and beans all blend together, we’d have a crockpot stew nobody could beat!
Sam also added that as a community, we might have to be a bit more careful with stereotypes, saying, “It is very easy to stereotype people. If you don’t engage with people and understand where they are coming from, it is very easy to categorize people.” When asked about what we could do to be more accepting, Sam said, “It pays to learn about what people think and understand and why people think what they think.”
Sam has a vision for George School to thrive as the best community it can possibly be. However, his vision is characterized by choice. Sam says, “I want this [George School] to be a boarding school of choice in the United States. I think we have the ingredients to do this. We have excellent academics. We are near culturally strong cities like Philly and New York City. We are near the central train stations. We have international diversity. It feels like we have the pieces of the house and it would be amazing if we put it all together.”
George School has a lot of potential to expand and improve as a community, despite already being such a great one as is. In order to accomplish this, Sam Houser has started to lay out a strategic direction for the school in the coming years. The biggest component of this initiative is to hear from the students. Sam finds the students the most enjoyable part of his George School experience. He believes they are essentially the fruits of the George School tree, saying, “The school is here for the students and I want to make sure that the school is serving them as well as possible. I want to meet with students to learn what they [the students] think the school could do better and what we currently do well and poorly.”
Sam emphasized that he wants to hear the insights of the senior class, as they will be departing shortly and he wants to learn as much as he can from them before they have to say goodbye.
From what it looks like, Sam is truly hoping for George School to improve as a community and be the best it can possibly be. However, he mentioned that no matter what changes and how many years go by, he always wants “George School” to feel like “George School.”
In the end, Sam Houser has had a great first term at George School and it appears that he will have many more good days to come!